Director 4.1, the latest release of IBMs capable system administration tool, provides handy new features while greatly expanding the tools Linux and non-IBM hardware support.
IBM Director 4.1
IBM Director 4.1 IBM Director 4.1 is a capable system administration program that offers basic tools for monitoring and configuring servers and desktops. Welcome in this release is new support for Microsofts Active Directory and greater Linux support. Many of its advanced server features are offered only for IBM systems, restricting its use in heterogeneous system environments. For IBM users, it has the right price: bundled free with IBM Intel Corp. servers or only $25 to upgrade from IBM Director 3.1.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
PRO: Easy setup and configuration; Active Directory and Linux support; excellent documentation; integrates with high-end system administration tools.
CON: Slow browser performance with Director; tool is expensive for non-IBM systems.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
HPs Insight Manager 7
LANDesk Software Inc.s Management Suite 7
Director is still relatively underused in a world already awash in system administrator tools. Hewlett-Packard Co.s Insight Manager still rules the roost when it comes to comprehensive products available directly from a PC manufacturer. However, Director 4.1, with its new breadth of features, is worth a look, as eWEEK Labs tests showed.
Director 4.1 includes basic system administration tools, such as event monitoring, system task scheduling, SNMP traps and system configuration aids; more advanced functions can be downloaded or bought from IBM.
For those using IBM Director, it costs only $25 to upgrade. However, new customers might find the $1,799 cost for one-server and 20-client licenses is steep.
Director 4.1 builds on the strengths of Version 3.1, maintaining the same easy-to-use, tri-pane console interface (see screen). To activate task functions, we simply clicked on a task, then dragged it to a specific system.
Version 4.1 provides new Active Directory support, a new command-line capability for scripting, support for Linux clustering and a powerful new Server Plus Pak. Server Plus Pak includes enhanced software modules for IBM servers, including Active PCI Manager, Capacity Manager, Rack Manager, System Availability and Software Rejuvenation. (The term "Software Rejuvenation" refers to the stopping and starting of selected software services and servers.)
Director 4.1 supports Microsoft Corp.s Jet 4.0 or Microsoft Data Engine 2.7 databases locally on the Windows server system, as well as Microsofts SQL Server, IBMs DB2, Oracle Corp.s Oracle Version 8 or 9, and PostgreSQL 7.2.
Director 4.1 can not only monitor the normal SNMP traps but also convert traps into Director events. System administrators can build automated responses for events.
Using Active Directory for users and groups is an easy way to allocate noncritical tasks (remote control of PCs, for example) to other groups, such as help desk personnel.
Director Agent Console, using the ubiquitous Microsoft Management Console, gives a view into systems that have the agent loaded and are being monitored. A fairly complete set of data can be seen, including details about configuration, inventory and monitoring. The same information can be viewed through a browser, but this was a very slow process in tests.
Documentation is complete and well-written. The Installation Guide and Systems Management Guide both provided very helpful information in setting up the various system monitoring parameters and gave solid advice for setting up networks for system administration.
The manuals state that the Director server can monitor as many as 5,000 systems, although this software will more likely be used in small and midsize workgroups.
Director 4.1 comes bundled with IBMs xSeries, Netfinity or eServer BladeCenter Server. For heterogeneous shops, 20 client licenses for non-IBM systems are included. Any IBM PC or server can be used with Director without the need for additional licensing.
Contributing Analyst Ryan Wright is at firstname.lastname@example.org.